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A former Richfield police officer and Stow resident has been ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to the "Shop With A Cop" program.
Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Alison McCarty sentenced Michael Simmons, 42, of Stow, to an 18-month suspended prison sentence and placed Simmons on two years community control, according to a Dec. 1 release from Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh.
Simmons was also ordered to pay the Richfield Police Department Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 66, which ran the Shop With a Cop program, $15,000 in restitution by March 15, 2017. Judge McCarty also ordered Simmons to complete 500 hours of community service.
In October, Simmons pleaded guilty to Grand Theft, a fourth-degree felony, the release stated.
The release stated that Simmons, hired by the Richfield Police Department in 1999, oversaw the department's "Shop With A Cop" program since its inception in 2003. In January 2016, Richfield's Chief of Police notified the Ohio Attorney General's Office after becoming aware of unauthorized financial transactions with the program. Agents with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation discovered thousands of dollars missing from the "Shop With A Cop" account.
Investigators say Simmons used the money to buy several items including tickets to sporting events, electronics, clothing, tools, and gift cards for his personal use, the release stated.
The "Shop With A Cop" program helps financially disadvantaged families by taking children on a shopping trip with law enforcement each holiday season.
"Michael Simmons was entrusted by the citizens of Ohio to uphold the law. He broke that trust and stole thousands of dollars from needy families and children for his own personal use," said Walsh in the Dec. 1 release. "His own despicable behavior and greed damaged the wonderful reputation of the Richfield Police Department, and potentially all law enforcement."
The money will be used to assist several Summit County organizations and to benefit the children of Summit County, the release stated.